Steve McIntyre. The Galveston County Daily News – September 20, 2015
Three of us met around my kitchen table on the morning of Sept. 8, 2012, to have breakfast and a conversation about low-wage workers in Galveston. We talked for a long time and concluded we should act.
On the last Monday in September 2013, we held our first Galveston Living Wage Conference at Live Oak Missionary Baptist Church. There were presentations from lawyers, local officials, and the US Department of Labor concerning voter registration, labor rights, registration for Obamacare, and obtaining free legal aid.
At our 2014 Living Wage Conference at St. Patrick Catholic Church there were presentations from lawyers, local officials, and the Galveston Country District Attorney concerning Sec. 3 jobs program at Galveston Housing Authority and City of Galveston, J1 immigrant workers, prosecuting wage theft, and the demographics of Galveston’s low wage workers. And GISD Superintendent Larry Nichols announced a wage increase for almost 100 of GISD’s lowest wage workers.
The upcoming 2015 conference on Sept. 28 at St. Patrick Catholic Church is sponsored by Golf Coast Interfaith, Galveston Coalition for Justice, Galveston Northside Taskforce, NAACP Galveston Unit No. 6180, LULAC Council No. 151, Gulf Coast Homeless Coalition, The Children’s Center Inc., Restaurant Opportunities Centers United, Galveston County Commissioner Stephen Holmes, the Rev. C. Andrew Doyle of Episcopal Church of Texas, Baptist Ministers’ Association of Galveston, Archbishop Emeritus Joseph A Fiorenza of Galveston-Houston Catholic Diocese, United Way of Galveston, The Jesse Tree, St. Vincent’s House, Galveston Ministerial Alliance, Galveston Catholic Charities, National Employment Law Project, Students Together for Service, and Galveston County Labor Council-AFL/CIO.
At our 2015 Conference there will be presentations on religious teachings concerning workers’ rights, living wage ordinances, Obamacare, rights of union and nonunion workers, wage enforcement, Galveston demographics, and enforcement of federal Sec. 3 obligations.
You can obtain more information about the conference at http://www.GulfCoastInterfaith.org.
There have been many small quiet conversations in Galveston since that first meeting around my kitchen table. Letters have been sent to different employers concerning the wages and benefits of low-wage workers. Information has been provided and conversations held or scheduled with GISD, CITY of Galveston, UTMP, Texas A&M, COM, Galveston College, Galveston Park Board, Galveston Port Authority, Galveston Housing Authority, and others. An employment survey is being circulated to help quantify the treatment of low-wage workers by their employers.
All of these quiet conversations between people of goodwill have been helpful in gaining a better understanding of the working lives of our friends and neighbors in Galveston.
Similar conversations have been happening more and more frequently around our country. Some of those conversations have evolved into debate and action and has changed the lives of workers and their families.
Join us at our third annual Galveston Living Wage Conference at 6:30pm Sept. 28 in the St. Patric Catholic Church auditorium.